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MVP Baseball 2005 Review

Developer: EA Sports Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: February 22, 2005 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2 and Xbox

It seems the baseball off-season was almost as active as the gaming winter. After EA bought the rights to the NFL and obtained the ESPN publishing rights, Take-Two bought the rights to baseball, making this the final MVP for a long time to come. However, this is probably the best baseball game you will ever see. The interface is the best, gameplay is the most realistic, and has depth like you cannot believe. The total baseball experience is all on one disc. MVP may not be out next year, but it won’t go quietly. You may be playing this one until the next is released years down the road.

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Being the standard upgrade in sports games, you would expect to see improved graphics. MVP won’t disappoint, creating a realistic experience through visual aid. The crowd is much more alive, moving life-like and more pixels were used to make them more presentable. They are no ESPN Football; however stadiums look as real as ESPN Football’s do. My only complaint is that the backdrop of each stadium still isn’t right.

Character models are fantastic and were given much detail. Even as they slide around, the uniforms get dirtied up realistically. Areas don’t just get marked anywhere either. New animations allow you to see different feats performed. Batters spin or bounce around when they miss big swings which is what they do sometimes in real life. You can also now wall jump to rob home runs or reach over the side wall to snag a foul ball. All of these improve the gameplay greatly.

The realism of a major league ball park has been fully stuffed into MVP. If it’s not the crowd that engulfs you with your stereo setup, it’s the field chatter between players on defense. They call which base to throw to when you’re chasing an outfield hit. This is extremely helpful for players who don’t understand baseball too well. Effects of sliding and bats are still great, seeing how there isn’t much you can do to change it. Commentating has improved a bit, but still isn’t that great. If anything, it tends to get on your nerves at times. The soundtrack as well has taken a bit of a step back, even though there are more songs during gameplay for batter music.

MVP is probably the most user-friendly baseball game of this decade. The total swing control helps you guide the path of your ball for certain situations. Pitch control is again set up with the pitch meter, but has been setup so there is a small margin of effort for your pitch. Throws have the red zone deeper, making throws less accurate the longer you hold it. The big play stick is great for making the gold glove snags. Run up and slide to grab a ball, making a diving catch, or rob a home run over the wall. It’s all about your timing of these plays that determine your success. The same stick is also used for slide control, determining how you slide into the bases.

The new Hitter’s Eye lets you see the type of pitch the pitcher threw as it leaves his hands. This is shown by giving you a flash of color right after the pitch is thrown. However, if you blink, you’d miss the flash. Owner’s mode puts you in control of your franchise for 30 years, controlling every aspect of your team. You will build a stadium that you will upgrade over time as you get more money from your team. At the beginning though, it will resemble a minor league park in a lot of ways. Speaking of this, A teams have been added for each team, giving you well over 120 teams to play with. These teams will be crucial for helping you build your franchise to be the best in the league.

MVP Baseball is deeper than any RPG would dream to be. Franchise mode gives you 120 years worth of games to play. With games from your favorite MLB team and minor league teams, that is a lot to play in Franchise. Owner’s mode just extends this to another 30 years. New mini-games help you improve the skills of your players through your seasons. If that isn’t enough, PS2 and Xbox supply online play with roster downloads. Add homerun showdown for a game to play with friends and you are in baseball heaven. Still, there is one thing perplexing me about MVP. Why doesn’t the catcher or umpire throw the pitcher the ball back? Either way, MVP is $30 well spent. You may be playing it until the MLB exclusive license runs out.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 8.9
Written by Shawn Review Guide